Ever since the success of The Blair Witch Project (1999) Hollywood filmmakers have sort of found a new genre to play with. The basic idea behind found-footage films is to shoot as much as you can like a documentary and then try to scare the audience with the ‘authenticity’ of it. The films are mostly first-person narratives, though of late filmmakers are turning towards following proper filmmaking norms. We present to you a list of some of the best found-footage horror films to have come out of Hollywood to keep you company during this quarantine.
The Last Exorcism (2010)
This supernatural horror film is directed by Daniel Stamm and stars Patrick Fabian, Ashley Bell, Iris Bahr and Louis Herthum. A man of the cloth who has lost faith in the Church has been doing fake exorcisms for a while now. So when a local farmer complains that his daughter has been possessed, the priest takes it all with a pinch of salt and agrees to perform an exorcism. When the girl is found to be pregnant, he suspects incest but the father insists his daughter is a virgin. The girl does start showing signs of possession and violently kills a cat. She names a boy who took advantage of her but upon investigation, the boy turns out to be gay. The priest, as well as the camera team which has been filming these encounters, rushes back to the farm and sees a demonic ritual taking place. The girl ends up giving birth to a child who is definitely not human. What happens to the priest and the camera crew forms the crux of this chilling film.
This is a 2010 Norwegian dark fantasy film, made in the form of a found-footage mockumentary. It is written and directed by André Øvredal, and features a mixed cast of relatively unknown actors and well-known Norwegian comedians, including Otto Jespersen. What happens when the stuff of fairytales actually turns out to be true? Three students Thomas (Glenn Erland Tosterud), Johanna (Johanna Mørck) and their cameraman Kalle (Tomas Alf Larsen), set out to make a documentary about a suspected bear poacher, Hans (Otto Jespersen). At the site of an illegally slain bear, they interview local hunters, who comment that the bear tracks look odd. Finn Haugen (Hans Morten Hansen), head of the Norwegian Wildlife Board, dismisses these rumours. Later, it turns out that Hans is the only certified troll hunter out of Norway. And Finn’s job is to make sure no one gets a whiff of the actual fact. Trolls have been behaving unnaturally lately and Hans and a student go in to investigate. They end up being trapped in the lair of trolls. The only way to escape is to evade the trolls and rush into the sunlight — which trolls hate. But one of them is a devoted Christian and trolls are known to sniff out Christian blood. The film is all kinds of fun and is shot just like a normal film and carries some proper creature effects. That’s what distinguishes it from others belonging to the genre, which are shot mainly as first-person narratives.
The Tunnel (2011)
This is an Australian found-footage horror film directed by Carlo Ledesma and co-written, co-produced, and co-edited by Julian Harvey and Enzo Tedeschi. The film stars Bel Deliá, Andy Rodoreda, Steve Davis, Luke Arnold, Goran D. Kleut, and James Caitlin. Natasha (Bel Deliá) is a journalist who wants to investigate why a government project was suddenly abandoned. In addition to the project reaching an inexplicable standstill, dozens of homeless people living in the abandoned tunnels have also reportedly gone missing. Natasha takes a film crew comprising her producer, Peter (Andy Rodoreda), cameraman, Steven (Steve Davis), and sound engineer, Tangles (Luke Arnold), down into the old tunnels to get to know the truth. They use night vision cameras to get to the bottom of the mystery. They reach a freshwater lake and afterwards, strange things start happening. They keep hearing strange noises over their recordings and later a large humanoid creature starts hunting them one by one. Their only defence is that it’s allergic to light.
Grave Encounters (2011)
Written and directed by Colin Minihan and Stuart Ortiz, this Canadian found footage supernatural horror film stars Sean Rogerson, Ashleigh Gryzko, Mackenzie Gray, Juan Riedinger, Merwin Mondesir and Matthew K McBride. A film crew hired to spend a night in an asylum which is supposed to be haunted gets the shock of their lives when it actually turns out to be so. The spirits of the dead patients start haunting them one-by-one and they can’t even leave because the premises have been chained off from the outside. The only way they can defend themselves is through staying together and teamwork. But when the spirits start getting more aggressive and the killings start, panic kicks in and the group starts to disintegrate leading to complete mayhem. The directors of the film, The Vicious Brothers, reportedly hid ghoulish props on the sets to capture authentic reactions from the actors.
Europa Report (2013)
This science-fiction horror film is directed by Sebastián Cordero and stars Christian Camargo, Anamaria Marinca, Michael Nyqvist, Daniel Wu, Karolina Wydra and Sharlto Copley. It recounts the fictional story of the first crewed mission to Europa, one of the four Galilean moons of Jupiter. Despite a disastrous technical failure that causes the loss of all communications with Earth mission control and a series of crises, the crew continues its mission to Europa and finds mounting evidence of life on the moon. Six astronauts embark on a privately funded mission to Jupiter’s moon Europa to find potential sources of life. The crew members are commander William Xu (Daniel Wu), pilot Rosa Dasque (Anamaria Marinca), chief science officer Daniel Luxembourg (Christian Camargo), marine biology science officer Katya Petrovna (Karolina Wydra), junior engineer James Corrigan (Sharlto Copley) and chief engineer Andrei Blok (Michael Nyqvist). Everything with the mission starts going wrong one after the other. They miss the designated site, all contact with Earth is seemingly lost and worse, a tentacled creature found on the moon is supposedly leading crew members to their death one by one. The whole ship is rigged with cameras — even the suits and helmets have cameras and the story is pieced together when communication is restored and the ship’s computer sends all the footage captured back to Earth.
The Visit (2015)
Directed by M. Night Shyamalan and starring Olivia DeJonge, Ed Oxenbould, Deanna Dunagan, Peter McRobbie, and Kathryn Hahn, the film is a modern tale on the Little Red Riding Hood story where she visited her grandma, only to find a wolf in disguise. The film revolves around a teenager Becca and her younger brother Tyler who live with their single mother who isn’t on good terms with her parents, whom they have never seen before. After finding their grandchildren online and wanting to meet them, the grandparents invite them to spend a week at their farm, while their mother goes on a cruise with her boyfriend. Becca and Tyler decide to make a documentary about their visit. But all is not what it seems. They’ve been told to sleep by 9:30 pm and once the kids catch their grandmother behaving abnormally past that time. Soon, the grandfather starts behaving erratically as well. They begin to fear for their lives and their fears might not be unjustified.
It’s a found footage psychological horror film directed by Patrick Brice and is based on a story written by Brice and Mark Duplass. Both Brice and Duplass also star in the film. Creep isn’t an actual horror story in the sense that it doesn’t have multiple killings. But the psychological factor would surely give you the creeps. The film follows Aaron (Brice), a videographer who responds to a request to create a series of videos for a dying man named Joseph (Duplass). As the two grow closer, Aaron discovers that his client is potentially unstable. The client keeps getting physical with him and at one time demands that he get into the bathtub with him. Aaron finds a wolf mask, and Joseph says he uses it for rough sex with his wife Angela. While he isn’t around, Aaron picks up Joseph’s phone. His sister Angela has called to check on Joseph and she advises Aaron to run away for his own good. He does manage to escape in the end but a strange set of circumstances make him confront Joseph one last time.